October 27th was national “Make a Difference Day.” This piece was written by Gernelle Nelson, the ISJL’s AmeriCorps member.
Taking a leadership role in Make a Difference Day is one of my duties as an AmeriCorps volunteer. I wanted to coordinate something really meaningful. While there are lots of ways to make a difference, this year, I encouraged our office to focus on making a difference for sick children in the hospital. Being in the hospital can be a scary and lonely experience for a child. Some young children have to be away from family and friends for weeks as they recover, and this can bring feelings of sadness and restlessness. We wanted to help them focus on learning and having fun despite their current conditions.
So we collected activity books, stickers and art supplies. Several of us even made handmade cards to show that we care. Within a week, we had over 80 cards, 30 activity books and 20 sets of crayons, markers and colored pencils. Along with one of the ISJL’s Education Fellows, Sam Kahan, I went and delivered the donations in person to the Batson Children’s Hospital. It was a wonderful way to truly make a difference for those children, hopefully brightening their day and reminding them that their community cares.
Even though Make a Difference Day has passed, it’s never too late to dedicate time, energy and other resources to improve our world. Did you participate in Make A Difference Day?
Tikkun olam has long been a hallmark of Jewish life – and that’s certainly true here in the South.
Southern Jewish communities have long been active in their cities and neighborhoods, working together with their neighbors to make a difference. Now, the ISJL also works in partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi Campus Link AmeriCorps Program. One of twelve AmeriCorps programs funded through the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, USM’s Link AmeriCorps program places year-long AmeriCorps service members to work with partner nonprofits.
This is the second year of the ISJL’s partnership with the Campus Link AmeriCorps Program. Campus Link provides nonprofits, like the ISJL, with AmeriCorps teams in order to lower student drop-out rates and promote academic success. The team is led by a full-time member, based at the ISJL, who is responsible for coordinating tutoring and mentoring sessions to be facilitated by part-time AmeriCorps members. As the Director of Community Engagement here, it’s my privilege to supervise our AmeriCorps member – and I’m thrilled that this year, we have selected Gernelle Nelson as our second full-time AmeriCorps Fellow to lead the ISJL’s AmeriCorps team.
“I am so excited to be working with the ISJL Department of Community Engagement,” says Nelson. “Having worked with middle school students at Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, I feel prepared to reach out and help students achieve academic success. I feel like I have the unique ability to look past circumstances and as I try to work with the students to uncover the great potential that each of them possesses.”
Please join us in welcoming Gernelle to the team, and helping continue the tradition of communities coming together to make our world a better place!